Football loses nail biter to Falcons

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Rena Salsberg, Staff Writer

In their season opener, Varsity Football faced a close but tough 14-16 loss against rival Riverdale last Saturday.

During the preseason, the team attended a sleepaway camp for four days to bond and prepare for the season. The drills and scrimmages the team did at the camp impacted how the school played against Riverdale, Carson Eisner (10) said. “At school, we are limited in how [often] we can tackle and hit, but we really had a lot of freedom in terms of what we could do at football camp.”

The weather at the start of the game was extremely hot, which made many of the plays more tiring to the players, Tucker Harris (10) said. However, despite their loss and the heat, the team’s morale remained high. “No matter if we were on defense or offense, or even if it was a timeout, everyone both on and off the field was pumped,” Harris said. 

Last season, the team won their homecoming game against Riverdale. “Riverdale is always a tough game for us. They are a rival hill school, and the team is always excited for the challenge,” Varsity Football coach Matthew Russo said. 

“Because we beat them last year, we were pretty confident going into [the game],” Oliver Guyer (10) said. “This game felt more like an away game because the people that attended were mostly Riverdale friends and family, so everyone was cheering [for] Riverdale instead of us.”

Still, the players and coaches on the sidelines cheered the Lions on and created an energetic environment throughout the entirety of the game, Eisner said. “Our coach really pumped us up and got us excited and ready to [play] Riverdale.” After halftime, the team put in a new group of players to play offense because the previous set of players was falling behind, Eisner said. “That shows we all have trust in each other to do something new. For a team to be successful, you need to do your part and trust that other people do theirs correctly,” he said. 

Coming back against Riverdale was not the team’s only challenge: one of their most valuable players, Julian Harcourt (12), suffered a foot injury in the middle of the game, Eisner said. Despite this setback, the players maintained a positive attitude throughout the game, he said.

The team planned to have a scrimmage with another school before they began the season, but the scrimmage was canceled, Guyer said. They would have really benefited from having a scrimmage and had a better chance to beat Riverdale, he said.

Jack Mogelof (11), who plays weakside linebacker, stood out for his impressive tackles, Eisner said. 

Guyer also played well and was able to show off his skills and talent during the game, Eisner said. “[He] had this interception which was such a great play and was definitely a game changer.” 

“The interception happened so fast that I barely knew what was going on until I had sat down on the sidelines. I was really proud of myself,” Guyer said. 

The team made a lot of plays in the second half after being down and showed their resilience, which will help the team for the remainder of the season, Russo said. 

In addition to Guyer and Mogelof, captain Nate Wildman (12) shined during the game, Eisner said. “That’s expected of a player who’s given his heart and soul for the last four years, and is a beast when it comes to football.”

Sam Spector’s (11) touchdown was a highlight of the game, Eisner said. “He was all the way in the endzone and he caught [the ball], which put the team back into the game and into the lead for a short period of time,” he said. “It was one of the most memorable moments from the game.”

“The seniors, including Wildman and Matthew Jacobson (12), really played their hearts out and did a great job,” Harris said. 

Even though the team lost, the game was a great learning experience for them, Guyer said. “We [now] all know what it feels like to be in a losing position,” he said. “Our loss will definitely motivate us more in our practices and games, and I am looking forward to seeing us excel the rest of the season.”